Tools Of The Trade is a Malaysian grindcore band. They’ve been around since 2004, and are well known in the scene for their music and high work ethic. This is evident from the three full-length EPs and numerous split records they’ve released to date.
Over the years, the band has gone through some big lineup changes (their old drummer is now bashing the skins for Kwala Bĕrlumpor). Guitarist/vocalist and founding member Tiong is the one constant that’s been in the lineup since day one.
We took some time out recently to have a chat with the band. Read on to find out what makes them tick.
Note: First video comes out on the 1st of March. The second video will be released on Monday (4th of March). And the final video on Wednesday (6th of March). All at 3pm!
Grindcore: is it hard to play?
This was one of the first questions we posed to them, during a break in-between recording their Wknd Sessions episode. And they do agree that it is not an easy genre to perform.
First and foremost: you have to dig the music. And then it’s practise, practise, practise.
But Tiong adds that listening to genres other than grindcore helps: they listen to a range of music from rock to modern jazz, and a lot of others in between. “The basics of performing these genres is quite similar,” he said. “We apply some of these basics, and modify them to suit our music and style.”
On making songs.
We asked Tools Of The Trade to explain their approach to songwriting.
A typical TOTT song is like your average 3-minute song. But compressed into 1 minute.
The band likes to keep their music short and simple. But getting to that finished product is anything but simple. And the shorter the songs they make, the harder it is to put together.
Tiong produces the riff – the start of the song. Fit (drums) then gets the feel of the song, and from there they start to play around with it. And Emi (vocals) then applies some quality control and looks at the overall song direction. It’s a truly collaborative effort.
There’s no bassist.
There’s a thing about grindcore with no bass. And we asked the band what their thoughts are around this.
They pointed out that it might be just down to pragmatism and convenience. “It’s easier to write songs!” Tiong said. They did confess that having a bass player adds depth to the music. But for them, it’s just easier on their creativity and music production workflow without having a bassist.
Tools Of The Trade toured extensively in UK and Europe in 2012, 2016 and 2018, with more planned in the future. We asked them what it was like playing in front of a western audience.
We learnt a lot from the professionalism of the venue management.
The band noted that things were quite organized, with timing and scheduling quite strictly observed. And it helps when everyone knows where they need to be and at what time.
Audience engagement was also amazing. “They really appreciate that an Asian band came to them to perform and tour,” Tiong said. And the band was blown away at the support that they got from the crowd, who bought their merch without thinking twice, among other things.
Watch our exclusive interview with Tools Of The Trade and learn more about the band, and the massive insights around grindcore and touring:
[UPDATE] Check out some behind-the-scenes photos for this episode: